Rheumatology conditions are among the top five study areas for clinical trials in Australia, with latest figures showing that musculoskeletal disorders were the focus of almost one in ten trials over the last decade.
In its latest report, the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry notes there have been 867 clinical trials (8%) studying musculoskeltal conditions in the period 2006 and 2015, making it the fourth most frequently investigated health issue after cancer (18%), mental health (12%) and cardiovascular disease (10%).
There were 265,000 people involved in trials into musculoskeletal conditions over the last decade, with 133 trials and 25,000 participants recorded for 2015.
The report also noted there were 610 trials investigating inflammatory and immune conditions in the last decade, which had 248,000 participants.
Clinical trials assessed multiple interventions, most commonly drugs (47%) but the proportion of trial investigating drug therapies fell steadily from 57% in 2006 to 42% in 2015. Other interventions studied in clinical trials included medical devices (10%), surgery (4%) and preventive strategies (11%).
There was a decline in the proportion of clinical trials supported by industry funding from 46% in 2006 to 37% in 2015. However, industry continued to dominate overall funding of clinical trials, accounting for $930 million of the $1.1 billion spent every year on trials in Australia. Government funding of $164 million was the second major source of funding for clinical trials. The proportion of non-commercial, non-government funding of trials had increased rapidly in recent years and now represented 60% of new trial registrations.
The report noted that Australia fared well in international comparisons, with over 10,000 clinical trials conducted and more than 5 million participants enrolled in the last decade, equivalent to than 1,000 trials and 500,000 participants each year.
“By conducting clinical trials in this country we enable Australians to access the best available health care options by capitalising on effective and efficient therapies,
reducing research waste and maximising value for money from the health care dollars invested,” concluded report author Professor John Simes, director of the ANZCTR, and co-author Professor Lisa Askie, manager of the ANZCTR and head of the of the NHMRC Clinical Trials Centre, University of Sydney.